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Archive for the ‘Culture of Life’ Category

2017 KC Royals scoreboard ad for Pro-life group, Vitae

Baseball fans at Royals Stadium last Tuesday may have noticed a small plane overhead dragging a mystifying message: ROYALS FANS DESERVE TRUTH — DROP VITAE.

Fans who could recollect no player on the team roster named “Vitae” didn’t give it a second thought.

The banner was fielded by radical pro-abortionists schooled at MoveOn.org calling themselves “UltraViolet.”   It was meant to piggyback on the Kansas City Star report about UltraViolet’s online petition opposing the Royals’ ad contract with the Missouri-based Vitae Foundation.

Vitae (pronounced vee’tay) means “for Life.” The Vitae Foundation has been dedicated to using mass media to build a culture of life and encourage women to utilize pregnancy assistance centers. The Royals scoreboard last week showed a mother and baby with the Vitae group logo.

But that was too much of a threat for UltraViolet. It alleges that Vitae “manipulates the public by spreading extreme, deceptive anti-choice propaganda not only to those seeking reproductive health care options, but also to young children.”

Really? That statement appears to have about as much credibility as the book by Christopher Hitchens vilifying Mother Teresa.

UltraViolet is long on vitriol and short on specific details as to Vitae’s alleged “lies”– despite the fact that plenty of Vitae’s life-affirming messages have been in circulation for 25 years.

Here’s part of Vitae’s press statement — information that never made it into the Star or USA Today– about their activities designed to empower women:

” If a woman in a difficult pregnancy makes the courageous decision to bring her child into the world, Vitae believes she should have meaningful support in making that decision. Pregnancy centers provide that support, and the Vitae Foundation is privileged to work with those pregnancy centers as they support women in making a decision they can live with.”

In fact, Kansas and Missouri have a plethora of “no charge”assistance centers to help women lacking support for delivering their babies.

No local furor has erupted against the Royals’ ad contract with the Vitae Foundation. In fact, most commenters to the local news story echoed these sample sentiments:

Mark M: “Future babies mean future fans. Torn up and killed babies will not be buying tickets or going to games.”

Andy B: “Seeing these pro-abort groups stoop to these levels shows how threatened they are by our message.”

Jeannette K: “Thank you Royals for taking a stand for the unborn with no voice.”

David H: “Royals made the correct CHOICE.”

The Vitae Foundation has developed public service campaigns directing women to real assistance centers where solutions don’t involve abortion.

Now that’s a home run.

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Baby Charlie Gard: another last minute reprieve for his life

Thanks to what has been termed an “extraordinary” measure by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, Charlie Gard will not be immediately removed from his ventilator.

The 11th hour intervention puts on hold until at least next week a decision by three members of the UK Supreme Court. Earlier this week those justices ordered that Charlie would remain on the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) ventilator only until today, Friday, as his parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, brought a plea asking the European Court of Human Rights to intervene.

The Mirror reported that in an emergency hearing at the High Court, seven judges took up the plea Charlie’s parents filed for “an urgent interim measure to save Charlie’s life under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court.” No decision has been made whether this High Court will take the case for review.  A statement from the court said:

“Today, the European Court of Human Rights decided to indicate to the United Kingdom Government that, in the interests of the parties and the proper conduct of the proceedings before it, they should provide Charlie Gard with such treatment and nursing care as may be appropriate to ensure that he suffers the least distress and retains the greatest dignity consistent, insofar as possible, with maintaining life until midnight on Tuesday 13 June 2017.”

After Thursday’s UK Supreme Court decision, hospital doctors were ordered to maintain an additional 24 hours of ventilator life-support. “A ruling by the European Court of Human Rights would be binding on the UK Government, rather than Great Ormond Street Hospital,” The Mirror reported.

As many pro-lifers are aware, 10-month-old Charlie’s medical condition is grave. He suffers from a rare, genetically-caused disease, so rare there are only sixteen known cases in the world. Charlie’s parents sought to remove him from the hospital to try “nucleoside bypass” oral therapy in the U.S. But the hospital wouldn’t let Charlie leave, and the courts ruled against Connie Yates and Chris Gard, Charlie’s parents.

Thousands around the world have been riveted to the drama of this young couple devoted to their ailing son.  More than 83,000 have pledged funding for that trip in the amount of $1.5 million.

PARENTAL RIGHTS ON TRIAL
An article yesterday in The Guardian by Owen Bowcott noted that the UK Supreme Court panel of Lady Brenda Hale, Lord Brian Kerr, and Lord Nicholas Wilson concluded, “Established human rights law dictates that the rights of a child should take precedence over the rights of their parent.”

The panel apparently were persuaded by GOSH lead attorney, Katie Gollop, who argued:

“The [alternative therapy in America] would take time and over the weeks and months Charlie would be forced to remain in his [precarious] condition: he can’t see, can’t hear, can’t cry, can’t swallow. He has a mechanism that causes his lungs to go up and down. We don’t know whether he suffers pain … the argument being advanced on behalf of Charlie’s parents was that the child should have no voice and it was entirely for the parents to decide. [That’s] dangerous and it’s power without end.”

As many have pointed out, including lawyers for the parents, by adopting GOSH’s claims, the UK Supreme Court is usurping parental rights— claiming that it (with the hospital) is the “voice” for Charlie with the authority to determine his “best interests.”

The public believes that it is actually this erosion of parental authority which is both dangerous and without any end in sight.

As Bowcott reports, attorney Richard Gordon, representing Connie & Chris, had told the UK Supreme Court:

“These are model parents trying to do all they possibly can for the benefit of their child. Their view on what is best for Charlie differs from the court… We say there’s a boundary beyond which the state cannot simply go without the strongest justification.

Charlie’s parents already have the natural authority to make informed decisions to further his life. Six months ago, they wanted to take him overseas to receive oral medication that seems to be successful for treating the mitochondrial depletion syndrome Charlie suffers from. Yet the hospital has restrained Charlie from getting that treatment while he continued to deteriorate—and now they insist he must die!

The question before the European Court of Human Rights over the weekend is whether the government has overreached in making themselves the ultimate arbiter of Charlie’s “best interests.” Attorney Gordon phrased it this way:

The issue is whether the state has the power to intrude on decisions the parents have made in order to mandate that child’s death before it might come to an end.”

Keep praying for Charlie and his long-suffering parents.

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Baby Charlie Gard’s parents feel he is a hostage in hospital, backed by courts

The British Supreme Court delivered devastating news today: they will not hold an emergency hearing to overturn a death verdict for baby Charlie Gard.

The top court reaffirmed lower court rulings from April and May that Charlie’s parents cannot remove him from a London hospital, and that life-sustaining measures be stopped so the ten month old boy might “die with dignity.”

BBC legal commentator, Joshua Rozenberg, tweeted that GOSH must not withdraw life-support before 5pm Friday to allow time to make an appeal to European Court of Human Rights.

Rozenberg

Rozenberg reported that Lady Hale, one of three Supreme Court justices reviewing Charlie’s legal appeal this past week, “says parents can’t insist on treatment that’s not in (the) child’s interests.”

The Independent reported that Charlie’s mother “broke down in tears, shouting: ‘How could they do this to us?’ as she was led from the court by lawyers.”

Charlie is being ravaged by a rare, genetically-caused disease (mitochondrial depletion syndrome), detected when he was 2 months old. An alternative “nucleoside bypass” oral therapy is on trial in the U.S. Charlie’s parents decided they wanted that option.

In a valiant attempt to be able to leave the country with Charlie, his  parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, have  battled three courts and the famed Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) where Charlie is on a ventilator.

An MRI in January when the baby was five months old detected no structural brain damage. But in February GOSH wanted Charlie’s life support to end and, moreover, prohibited his removal from the hospital.

 “FUTILITY POLICY” BEATS PARENTS’ RIGHTS
Social media proves that the public is outraged at the hubris of the courts in this matter.  This is the same public that raised $1.5 million dollars in a GoFundMe campaign created by Charlie’s parents to fly him overseas for treatment.

In the April Court of Appeal ruling, Charlie was referred to as having “an awful existence.” The Court opined, “[P]arents may lose their objectivity and be willing to try anything” and insisted that the new bypass therapy was “not viable.”

The Court of Appeal rejected the various arguments of Charlie’s lead attorney, Richard Gordon, that the court had no standing to uphold GOSH against parental authority because Charlie was under no threat of “significant harm” from his parents.

The Court nonetheless insists that it is their duty to make a “best interests” assessment which included whether:

  • the treatment causes pain,
  • the medical condition itself is a severe burden, and
  • it is Impossible to derive benefit from continued life.

“Benefit from continued life” and “severe burden” are undefined terms yet they are the lynch pin of the claim the courts are using to end Charlie’s life. His parents do not believe he is in pain, and they have promised not to inflict any. Their rational medical decision has been crushed by the courts’ haughty claim to be the ultimate arbiter of the value in “continued life.”

Back in 2014, another British hospital had forbidden parents from taking the child out of hospital for a new treatment. (read more here) Britain actually arrested (and later released) the parents who took their ailing child out of the country for a successful cancer therapy that Britain is only now this year beginning to offer.

The therapy worked, young Ashya King is alive and well, yet British courts have not learned their lesson.

And Charlie Gard and his parents are paying the ultimate price.

Thousands are anxiously following this drama and praying that the European Court of Human Rights will play a heroic part in it. Stay tuned.

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Charlie & dad; UK court ruling today confirms hospital removal of life-support

A second court has now doomed 9-months-old Charlie Gard to die inside a London hospital.

The UK Court of Appeal ruled this morning against the plea of parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard that they be allowed to take their failing son out of a British hospital for experimental treatment in the U.S.

The decision by Justices Andrew McFarlane, Eleanor King and Philip Sales affirmed a lower court ruling of April 11 that the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) keep Charlie on the premises and remove him from a ventilator and feeding tube.

As reported by The Guardian, the Appeal Court judges had been otherwise urged by Charlie’s lead attorney, Richard Gordon, that the case raised serious legal issues, including the possibility that Charlie might be being unlawfully detained and denied his right to liberty. Gordon argued, The Guardian reported, that,

“What is really at stake in this case is the state, on a massive scale, intruding in your right to private and family life.”

Charlie entered GOSH in October and was diagnosed as suffering from a form of mitochondrial disease that causes progressive muscle weakness and brain damage. Subsequently, his parents discovered that 18 people in the United States had been treated with an oral medication of naturally occurring compounds to remedy this rare condition. Reports have not identified the doctor who initially agreed to treat Charlie, but it was noted that his parents were aware that no cure was promised.

Attorney Gordon urged that the Appeal Court, “[S]hould not interfere with the exercising of parental rights… and stand in the way of their only remaining hope.”

Over 80,000 people around the world agreed with that position and generously pledged over $1.5 million in a GoFundMe campaign (#Charliesfight) to get him out of the hospital and into the experimental therapy.

GOSH attorneys pressed the Appeal Court to agree that the parents’ proposed treatment for Charlie would result in a “condition of existence which is offering the child no benefit.”

One can only sadly wonder, alternatively, what Charlie’s “condition” would have been if GOSH had released him—months ago– for the new therapy.

His parents never imagined that bringing their baby to a hospital meant they would lose the ability to remove him.  But that is what British courts have now decreed.

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Three UK Court of Appeal judges heard arguments today in the case of releasing a baby boy on life support to get experimental therapy in the United States. Justices Andrew McFarlane, Eleanor King and Philip Sales are expected to issue a ruling Thursday in a case reviewing a decision against the baby’s parents made April 11 by High Court Justice Nicholas Francis.

Imagine yourself in this drama, as the London parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard.

After their son Charlie was born healthy in August, they brought him to the Great Ormond Street Hospital [GOSH] for care in October. After establishing a diagnosis of a rare and incurable disease, GOSH then prevents them from taking their failing son overseas for a “last chance” experimental treatment!

Parents stateside have watched a related development as Scott and Sheryl Crosier led a crusade to stop DNR orders from being placed on children without parental notice and consent. Their 3-months-old son, Simon, with Trisomy 18, was denied resuscitation and died. Multiple stories of medical bias against medically fragile children were presented to the Kansas legislature, which enacted Simon’s Law in April by resounding margins.

Britain has no such hospital decision-making protection for parents.

After Charlie’s parents tracked down a potential new therapy, they launched a GoFundMe campaign –in January– to raise funds for the expenses of taking their baby overseas, with this plea:

“We are running out of precious time with our baby, he can’t have this treatment in the UK so our only hope now is to get Charlie to America.”

Over 80,000 members of the public responded generously to pledge over $1.5 million to cover Charlie’s expenses… yet GOSH will not let Charlie leave the premises!

For months, Charlie’s parents pleaded that they did not think their son was in pain; insisting that “their fight was not them ‘being selfish’ in keeping Charlie alive but about exhausting all options for potential treatment.”

CHARLIE DETERIORATES
WHILE CONFINED IN LONDON
Today, according to various UK news reports, GOSH attorneys doubled down on their position, telling the Court of Appeal that Charlie “cannot see, hear, make a noise or move,” that it is “hard for anyone to know whether he is pain,” and that further treatment would leave him in a “condition of existence.”

In essence, the hospital asserts the parents are unreasonable to pursue a treatment, cannot tell if they are causing Charlie pain and there’s no “meaningful” reason for Charlie to stay alive.

It is now five months since the funding campaign was started by Charlie’s parents, desperate to get him to the U.S. to be involved in experimental “nucleoside bypass therapy.” They acknowledged it was a move that had limited scientific basis to repair Charlie’s mitochondrial depletion syndrome, but would assuredly aid in the research to help others in the future.

It is hard not to see that Charlie Gard’s deteriorating condition is due in no small part to the stubbornness of a hospital unjustly asserting control, and “usurping the parental function” in the words of the parents’ attorney today in Court.

Followers of Charlie’s saga scratch their heads and say why has the hospital insisted –against the parents’ wishes—that Charlie be removed from life support and “die with dignity?”

The Court of Appeal will have the final word Thursday.

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Sheryl Crosier and Gov. Brownback share a spontaneous hug after the official signing of Simon’s Law.

Appreciative parents, legislators and pro-life /pro-family advocates surrounded Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback this morning as he formally signed Simon’s Law.

Simon’s Law passed the Kansas Senate 29-9 on March 16 and the House by 121-3 on March 31. The victory culminated a grassroots campaign among families whose children with chromosomal disorders were denied life-saving care.

Simon’s Law is a very significant pro-life measure in the area of selectively “rationed” care and medical discrimination against children with life-limiting diagnoses. Simon’s Law:

  • validates both the medical advisory role and parental rights;
  • ends “secret” DNRs based on “quality of life” judgments;
  • buttresses dignity for children with disabilities;
  • exposes policies denying life-saving care; and
  • combats erosion of the Sanctity of Life ethic in our culture.

As catalogued in an award-winning 2014 short documentary, “Labeled,” a frightening number of children with chromosomal disorders are denied life-saving medical treatment.

Trisomy 18, Trisomy 13, and related genetic disorders have been routinely labeled “lethal” and “incompatible with life.” As a result, children with these conditions almost automatically receive DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders without parental consent.

That was the experience of Sheryl and Scott Crosier, who lost their infant son, Simon, six years ago.

Kansas pro-life legislators surround the Crosier family (left) as Gov. Brownback officially signs Simon’s Law with Frank & Ann Barnes at far right.

Simon had a diagnosis of Trisomy 18. At age three months, he had what proved to be a fatal apnea attack in the hospital.  While his parents held him, they waited in numbing shock as no emergency aid came to the rescue.

Later, Sheryl and Scott found that a DNR order was in Simon’s chart, which neither parent knew about nor approved.

After Simon’s death, Sheryl and Scott reviewed his chart and discovered Simon had only been given “comfort feeds” which are not sufficient for growth and development. He had also been given medications incompatible with his apnea. These revelations fueled their anger and their resolve to do something.

A LAW TO ALERT PARENTS
The Crosiers believed legislation was needed to

  1. stop the issuance of unilaterally-issued DNRs, and
  2. expose the practice of hospital futile care policies dictating scenarios in which life-saving treatment is withheld or withdrawn.

They began in Missouri in 2014, but certain medical interests were opposed and the measure has not yet been able to secure committee passage.

Kansans for Life  took up the original bill last year, and redrafted it with aid from NRLC’s Robert Powell Department for Medical Ethics. After an impressive win in the Kansas Senate, there was insufficient time for action in the House in the 2016 legislative session.

This year, the bill was refiled amid delicate negotiations between Kansans for Life  and hospital staff and hospital ethicists. The result was a more narrowly focused bill that was able to bridge entrenched medical objections.

The Crosiers approved the revisions and came to testify at the Statehouse with 12-year-old son Sean. The sadness and sense of betrayal of Simon’s death is still very real for them. Sean testified about how his excitement at being a “big brother” tuned into “pain and heartache” that still endures.

Parents of Trisomy kids rejoice in the signing of Simon’s Law

NATIONAL IMPACT
Frank and Ann Barnes from North Carolina also traveled to Topeka to celebrate the bill signing today. Their daughter Megan, was profiled last year in the NRLC News Today

Yes, Megan had limitations, but her mother described her as “content” and “knew she was loved.” At age nineteen, Megan was hospitalized for virus-caused dehydration, in a pediatric intensive care unit at a major teaching hospital. She was never to return home.

Due to her Trisomy 18 condition, a DNR had been verbally ordered into her chart by an “attending” physician without parental notice or consent. Megan was dead four days later.

Ann and Frank are actively involved with S.O.F.T., a nationwide family support group for Trisomy 13, Trisomy18, and related disorders. At today’s signing and press conference, Gov. Brownback invited them to talk about their daughter and the impact of her death.

As of July 1, Simon‘s Law in Kansas will mandate:

  1. Parents receive both written and verbal notification before a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) is placed in a child’s medical file. Parents can then allow the order– or refuse it orally or in writing. Court access for disputes is delineated and the child remains safe during resolution.
  2. Parents and prospective patients of any age have the right to request and receive hospital policies concerning “denial of life-saving care” (sometimes referred to as medical futility policies). There is no mandate that hospitals have such policies.

See KFL Simon’s Law video here and more on the KFL youtube channel.

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The American College of Pediatricians has congratulated the Kansas legislature for the passage of Simon’s Law, “on behalf of our most vulnerable patients and their families.”

In a letter this week to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, the College’s president,  Dr. Michele A. Cretella, urged him to sign the first-in-the-nation bill, which is exactly what will happen Friday morning in a public ceremony in the Capitol at Topeka.

As a backdrop, she cites a Feb. 2014 article in the journal Pediatrics, for her assertion that, “Once inconceivable, the practice of hospital staff placing a do not resuscitate (DNR) order on a child’s chart without the informed consent of the child’s parents or legal guardian is on the rise.” (see more here)

Infant Simon Crosier with his brothers before his death by secret DNR

Dr. Cretella congratulates that, “Simon’s Law is designed to prevent this practice. It will guarantee parents their inalienable right to participate in the healthcare decisions of their children. The willingness of some physicians to circumvent the child’s and parent’s or guardian’s consent regarding disagreement over medical care is ethically concerning. This is because medical decision-making is increasingly predicated upon the ill-defined and subjective concept of ‘quality of life’.”

She continues, “While a life with one or more disabilities may be considered intolerable by some, there are many children and adults with one or more severe disabilities who believe otherwise, as do their families. A medical team of highly accomplished, able-bodied individuals that relies upon its subjective and imperfect prediction of a child’s potential quality of life in the future, as a basis for its decision-making, is likely to be biased against preserving the life of a disabled child. Allowing these medical teams to then force that biased view on a patients and his family via unilateral DNR, approaches the practice of euthanasia.”

This is the context of why Simon’s Law is a great step in reclaiming a cultural respect for the dignity of human life. Dr. Cretella explains,

“Simon’s Law acknowledges every human being’s inherent dignity and the fact that patients and their guardians– most especially parents of minors– have the right to know policies concerning the ‘denial of life-saving care’.”

Dr. Cretella

In conclusion, Dr. Cretella writes, “Moreover, the requirement that patients themselves and/or their parents or other legal guardian receive both written and verbal notification before a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) is placed in a medical file respects the principles of beneficence, nonmaleficence, justice and autonomy.”

Kansans for Life appreciates the support for Simon’s Law from such a respected group… one that defines itself as designed “to promote a society in which all children, from the moment of their conception, are valued unselfishly.”

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